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French ice federation boss steps down amid sexual abuse scandal

French ice sports federation president Didier Gailhaguet had been president of the FFSG since 1998 with a gap between 2004-07, before resigning on Saturday. Photo by Frederic Stevens/Getty Images

French ice sports federation president Didier Gailhaguet resigned from his position on Saturday after previously refusing to step down amid the sexual abuse scandal in French figure skating.

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu asked Gailhaguet to resign on Monday after several figure skaters claimed they were raped or sexually assaulted when they were minors by former coaches.

"I have taken with dignity, and without any bitterness despite the injustice, the wise decision to resign," Gailhaguet told reporters after a board meeting.

On Wednesday, Gailhaguet refused to step down, saying he had made "mistakes" but that he was never "at fault".

French prosecutors on Tuesday launched a preliminary investigation into former figure skating coach Gilles Beyer for the alleged rape of a minor and sexual aggression.

Former figure skater Sarah Abitbol, a bronze medallist with partner Stephane Bernadis at the 2000 world championships, recently published a book in which she said Beyer had raped her multiple times from 1990 to 1992.

Three other skaters also claimed they were raped by former coaches.

Gailhaguet had been president of the FFSG since 1998 with a gap between 2004-07, after he was suspended by the International Skating Union for his role in a judging scandal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Beyer was the team manager of a French juniors team at the 2011 world championships despite a Sports ministry-led inquiry from 2000 showing that the former coach had inappropriate behaviour with an underage skater.